As has been reported previously on this website, Formula One will be making some major changes in the 2014 season, with the most significant being a switch to smaller V-6 turbo powerplants instead of the naturally aspirated V-8s in use since 2006.
The move is to ensure closer ties between the research and development carried out in F1 and the concerns of everyday motorists (i.e. environmental and economic fronts) without detracting from the thrill of motorsport’s top echelon.
To ensure the smaller V-6 engines, which displace just 1.6 liters instead of the 2.4-liter capacity of the current V-8 design, maintain the performance levels expected of F1, they will feature power-boosting technologies such as turbocharging and vehicle electrification.
The result is that the engines will consume around 40 percent less fuel while maintaining similar performance levels--outputs of around 750 horsepower.
Renault is the first to reveal its new F1 engine for the 2014 season, and it's likely rival engine suppliers such as Ferrari and Mercedes will reveal their new designs shortly.
At the heart of the advanced powerplant is the 90-degree V-6. It features direct fuel injection and revs to a limited 15,000 rpm, 3,000 revs less than the current limit. The engine also features a single exhaust system instead of the current dual setup, and thanks to a turbocharger can output as much as 600 horsepower on its own.
Added to this engine are two electric motors. The first motor recovers energy under braking by acting as a generator, storing it in a lithium-ion battery until required by the driver. At full power, this motor can add 120 kilowatts (161 horsepower) to the car’s output--double that currently allowed by F1’s KERS design.
The second electric motor is a little different, as it acts primarily as a generator. It recovers energy from exhaust gasses exiting the turbocharger waste gate and then stores it in the same battery as the first motor (exhaust gasses spin a turbine that then spins the motor generator). This will ensure drivers have the electric power when they need it. Note, the second motor can also keep the turbo compressor spinning at speed during lower engine revs so that lag is eliminated when the driver drops the hammer.
This new concept should prove interesting. While the principle of recovering brake energy and using it to aid the engine is similar to the current KERS design, as well as that found in most modern hybrid vehicles, the recovery of exhaust gas energy is new and it is this combination of two systems that makes the 2014 F1 engines so innovative.
The best part is that firms like Renault are already investigating the use of the technology in the production car realm.
Renault’s turbocharged V-6 engine for the 2014 Formula One season